Lalo first started his musical training in his native hometown of Lille. He then moved to the Paris Conservatoire in order to study composition and the violin. In the 1840’s Lalo started to compose, however due to the deficiency of performance and publication of his music, Lalo gave up and played viola in a string quartet for a decade. After his marriage to contralto Bernier de Maligny, he started to compose again. More and more of his music was being performed thanks to his wife and from her also came the inspiration to write his first opera, Fiesque. Then, in 1875 Sarasate performed his 5 movement Symphonie Espagnole through which Lalo gained a foothold in the world of composers.
The first movement is written in a carefully crafted sonata form, with the first theme requiring technical mastery from the player for it involves huge upward leaps. The second theme is more lyrical and changes from minor to major. The light and nimble second movement is in ternary form. It is lyrical but there are times where the player must be flexible. The third movement consists of alternating groups of two and three, a classic spanish rhythmic device. The fourth movement is morose and in ternary form. The last movement is a rondo based upon rhythm of the Italian Saltarello.